Forecasting what the world might look like in years to come brings to mind a quote often ascribed to Niels Bohr, the Nobel laureate in Physics and father of the atomic model: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” But difficult as it may be, it’s a task we consider critical to our work here at NTT DATA.
Foresight is one of our three core values alongside ‘Clients First’ and ‘Teamwork’. As the world moves faster than ever, and as technology rapidly transforms the world we live in, NTT DATA is dedicated to mapping the future. We are interested in establishing how people in the future will live, how businesses will operate, and how technological innovations play a part. We are interested, too, in how societies and businesses will tackle pressing global challenges: from an ageing population, to sustainable agriculture, to efficient and renewable energy sources, to smart transport.
NTT DATA Foresight Report
What are the forces of change? How are they affecting the development of a better society? What are the implications for individuals, businesses, and society at large? What exciting new technologies will continue to transform the world and improve human welfare?
These and many other forward-looking questions are the focus of our Foresight teams here at NTT DATA, which uncover and present the trends driving business and societal change over the next 3 – 10 years. Our research is focused on four key areas of study – politics, society, economics and technology – and culminates every year in NTT DATA’s Foresight Report.
Our report starts not with technological trends, but rather with societal trends:. We recognise that technological advancement, business innovation and societal transformation are all inextricably linked and it’s this intersection that drives society towards the future. Whilst the report takes a long-term view, we ensure that the findings are immediately relevant.
As we enter 2021, it is interesting to briefly reflect on where we thought we would be this time last year given the seismic changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it globally: In its analysis, the 2020 report uncovered 3 societal trends and 8 technology trends that are driving business innovation.
Several of the key trends of 2020 have actually accelerated by Covid-19 (itself, something of a black swan event): we are more reliant on technology than ever before and at the same time, technological, behavioural, and societal trends have shifted and are likely to remain altered as we enter a new normal. The pandemic has highlighted exactly how important the connection between technology and society is, and how we must harness technological innovation to forge new norms that have a positive impact for society. One key trend we highlighted was the role that data science would play in the life sciences and the unfolding of the COVID-19 vaccine development has only served to reinforce this message.
Another major highlight of the 2020 report is that the demand for computing power is being addressed through innovation in the sector, from photonic networks to quantum computing. These developments will not only enable technology to continue to improve, but also facilitate the creation of additional technologies for completely new IT infrastructures – research and development of new infrastructures are already beginning to show positive results, including a power-saving, high-efficiency processor that imitates the human brain. The NTT Group has established the “IOWN Global Forum” to work with partners such as Microsoft, Intel and Sony to further develop this area.
The Foresight Report 2021 will be released soon and despite the disruption of the pandemic, we have found that most of the trends identified in 2020 are still valid and evolving.
Foresight in practice
Much more than a standalone report, the report is about guiding the direction of our R&D programmes and achieving a better society. By depicting and predicting a vision of the near-future and working together with clients, we can help them to plan for the impact of future technology and deliver new, untapped value.
Perhaps most significantly, through our independent as well as our work with clients, we have the opportunity to bring our Foresight predictions to life. In the area of smart cities, for example, the company has been piloting a smart city project in Las Vegas’ innovation district that revolutionises how the city’s authorities ensure the safety of the public. By utilising sound sensors, high definition cameras and IoT sensors, we’ve been able to collate video and audio data from across the area and process it in real time, searching for emerging incidents and alerting emergency services as soon as possible. This innovative project went on to be recognised at the Smart 50 awards, honouring the most transformative ‘smart projects’ of the year.
At NTT DATA, we believe it is our duty to use technology to help contribute to a more affluent and harmonious society. Foresight helps us to achieve exactly this. In acknowledging that society, business and technology are co-dependent, and that foresight is essential to sustainability and development, NTT DATA aren’t just guiding the future – we’re building the future.